Babar Ahmad wins £60,000 damages from Met

Babar Ahmad's fatherThe Metropolitan police today agreed to pay £60,000 damages to a British Muslim after a high court admission that officers had subjected him to “serious, gratuitous and prolonged” attack.

The court was told that Babar Ahmad, who is accused of raising funds for terrorism, had been punched, kicked and throttled during his arrest by officers from the force’s territorial support group in December 2003.

The Met had repeatedly denied the claims, saying officers had used reasonable force during the arrest. However, lawyers for the force’s commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, today admitted at the high court that Ahmad had been the victim of gratuitous and sustained violence at his home in Tooting, south-west London.

“The commissioner has today admitted that his officers subjected Babar Ahmad to grave abuse tantamount to torture during his arrest,” Ahmad’s solicitor, Fiona Murphy, said outside the court.

Outside the court, Ahmad’s brother-in-law, Fahad Ahmad, read out a statement on his behalf in which he said he was pleased the police had finally admitted what had happened.

“This abuse took place not in Guantánamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting, south London,” the statement said. “The path to justice is long and difficult but, as long as you remain steadfast upon it, you will get there in the end.”

Ahmad has been in detention since he was rearrested in 2004 after a request from the US government over claims he helped raise money to fund terrorist campaigns. The court heard that no evidence had been produced against Ahmad, and he had never been charged with any offence.

He is now fighting extradition to the US in the European courts.

Guardian, 18 March 2009

See also BBC News, 18 March 2009

Click here for statements by Babar Ahmad, his family and his solicitor.

Update:  See “Met chief orders inquiry on beaten terror suspect” in the Independent, 19 March 2009